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What we offer
At Little Acorns we acknowledge that all children are unique and develop at different rates. All children have strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Children learn in a variety of different ways and have their own personalities. At Little Acorns we aim to treat each child as an individual and meet their specific needs accordingly, as one of our core values is that we want every child to flourish within our care. The relationship that our staff have with all of our parents are very strong and supportive. We care greatly about each child’s family and value the aspirations they have for each member. We aim to support them as a whole family unit.
Once a child registers with us, the family is contacted a year before they start with us and we ask for any information regarding additional needs known at that point.
Therefore if a child comes to us with obvious additional needs, we aim to put in place as soon as possible – support, strategies and resources that will enhance that child’s learning and care with us. Our approach has always supported the whole family as well as the child.
At Little Acorns we have strong routines that we feel children benefit from and is part of the preparation for them going to school. Group rules and expectations are frequently discussed.
We have a lot of consistency within the preschool environment and staff use a lot of the same set phrases so that children have clear set boundaries. However, if a child has additional needs and it is not yet appropriate for them to join in with any of the routines e.g our more formalised whole group times, we will make adjustments to meet that child’s needs.
We use a lot of symbols and pictures to explain routines and what is happening ‘now’ and ‘next’. If necessary we can personalise pictures e.g a photo of a child’s parent and house to depict home-time.
Our preschool team are all highly knowledgeable and the majority of us have worked together for over 10 years. During this time we have encountered a range of special educational needs and disabilities. This includes: hearing impairment, vision impairment, autism, ADHD, behavioural issues, speech and language problems, severe allergies, asthma, Type 1 Diabetes.
We have also worked closely with specialists and professionals in order to have the right advice and guidance to support these children – including: Hearing and Vision Support Services, Portage Services, Speech and Language Therapists, Health Visitors, Paediatrician.
If a child had medical conditions, we would seek out training and advice in order to have a better understanding of how best to care for the child. In the past we have had a nurse talk to the staff team about severe allergic reactions and the use of epi-pens and been trained on medical procedures surrounding Diabetes. All staff are First Aid Trained.
Identifying special educational needs
Each child has a key person allocated to them who is responsible for their record keeping and liaising with parents. However all staff care for and write observations on, all the children and may feedback to parents highlights of their child’s day. We have a weekly staff meeting where concerns about any child are raised by any member of staff. In addition, we take notice of any concerns a parent may have. In order to prompt this we send out regular ‘Parent to key person Information update’ sheets which includes a section on any concerns.
If it was thought necessary we would produce a Child Centred Plan with some targets on for your child to achieve. This would be shared with you and we would ask you to support that learning at home.
We work closely with the Health Visitors who visit us on site every half term so we can discuss any concerns we have. We have an excellent relationship with our local Speech and Language Therapist, who will also come out to meet a child she is working with. In addition we can email her at any time with any queries we have. In the past she also gave us some staff training and guidance notes, which has proved invaluable.
If we feel a child is not progressing in a particular area we will talk to the parent about our concerns. We will then seek appropriate help and advice. We would then endeavour to support them as best as possible. This may result in applying for additional funding to do this.
If it became appropriate we would request the Local Education Authority to make a full education, health and care assessment of the child. This would hopefully then result in them being given an Education, Health and Care Plan.
If a child were to start with us and they already had a EHC Plan we would aim to adhere to the plan and meet all those needs so that the child can meet their full potential.
We aim to always keep the parents informed and are happy to speak regularly both formally or informally. We hope that as a staff team we are always friendly and approachable and that it is evident that we genuinely care about all children.
In order for children to developmentally grow we put in place resources and strategies to help them achieve this. (For example we installed a canopy over our whole group area to improve the acoustics). We may adapt an activity to make it simpler. We may provide extra adult support (one to one). We may adapt the routine to meet their needs. We may have a small group activity designed to teach or support a child in a particular area e.g speech and language games.
We have a lot of space at preschool, with a large open-plan main room, a huge gymnasium and a garden too. If necessary we would move furniture to accommodate any needs a child has.
We really value the thoughts and advice given to us from parents as we recognise them as the child’s primary carer and understand they have greater knowledge about their child and so may know how best to support their child’s learning.
Our staff are all very well qualified within early years care and education. They seek to continually improve, with personal and professional development high on their agenda. Little Acorns SENCo and/or deputy have been on relevant training courses including: the role of the SENCo, Sensory Processing, Inclusion training, Sensory impairment, Behaviour Management, I CAN talk, Signalong, understanding emotional development, developing attention and concentration, Persona Dolls. In addition all staff attend training courses. Staff share information gained at staff minutes so that as a team we develop together.
We work really closely with the schools we feed into and invite reception teachers into preschool the term before they start school. For children with SEND we would have more contact with the school prior to them starting and work out strategies with the reception teacher to best support in their transition to school. We pass on key information including ideas about resources or strategies that have worked well for us with the child so that a consistent approach is developed. This inevitably helps the child settle more quickly at school. We also often visit the children at school once they have started, to see how they have settled and offer any further advice to the teacher.
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